On Pulau Carey island, 40km southwest of Kuala Lumpur (reachable by road), this Orang Asli village is well worth a visit to learn about the distinct culture and traditions of the Mah Meri, a subgroup of the Senoi people who live along the coast of Selangor. The Mah Meri are renowned for masterful woodcarving and expressive masks worn during dance rituals to represent ancestral spirits. Call or email before making the journey, as the cultural village mostly caters to visiting groups.
Drop by the village museum for excellent displays of Mah Meri art, with accompanying texts explaining the mythologies and local legends informing each piece, such as the story of a tiger trapped in a cage that inspired one of the Mah Meri's most significant wood sculptures. Many of the figures are representations of some of the more than 700 gods recognised by the Mah Meri; a few pieces are more than 100 years old.
If you're in a group, browse the website for packages that include food, handicraft demonstrations (carving mangrove timber and origami) and perhaps hands-on lessons. For in-depth understanding of the Mah Meri, past and present, book ahead to secure an English-speaking tour guide (RM300). It's also possible to arrange demonstrations of dance and wedding rituals.
You can order wood carvings at the village centre, or pick up less expensive, but still wonderfully pretty, woven baskets and mats made from pandanus leaves, or palm-leaf origami. You can also rent rickety bikes (RM15 per hour) to explore the rest of the island. The Mah Meri Cultural Village is well signposted.
If you don’t have your own wheels, hire a taxi to Pulau Carey from Klang (round trip with a couple of hours on the island costs RM160).